The Alcohol Education Trust - Parent Newsletter

Spring Term, January 2017, Ed 23

How many of us are on a January New Year resolution binge? Nearly everyone we talk to seems to be juicing, spiralising or talking about the shortage of kale, spinach and courgettes! It's tea and coffee that are mainly on our desks I’m afraid!

We’ve had a busy start to the New Year here, with over 100 parents attending a wonderful health and wellbeing event in Torquay and our annual Talking To Kids About Alcohol evening for parents at Brine Leas school in Nantwich. Do ask your school or email if you’d like to encourage them to hold a supportive information evening on how to help keep teenagers safe around alcohol – whether it’s about parties, supply, older siblings, clarity around the law or just how to deal with stroppy teenagers. Our regionally based parent advisors can reach most of England, so do get in touch or visit the parent area of for lots of tips and advice.

Time to focus on girls

Although official statistics show that more than a quarter of 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK have either stopped drinking or have never tried alcohol (up some 40% since 2005) and experts suggest that young people are happier to stay at home and interact through social media rather than go out drinking, we still have some very worrying trends around girls and drinking. Almost a third of girls have been drunk at least twice by the age of 15, compared with a quarter of boys the same age. Girls in Canada and Sweden also  drink more than their male peers, but the gender gap is biggest in Britain, according to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

According to our findings, the fact that teenage girls under 18 get drunk more often and account for more alcohol related hospital admissions than boys could be due to the following factors:

·        Girls are very calorie aware and if they plan to drink, they might cut back on their food calories as they know they will be having extra calories from alcohol. Please do talk about the risks of drinking on an empty stomach – how alcohol will rush into the bloodstream and not have a chance to be broken down by enzymes in the stomach. Eating will really help the liver out. We know carbs aren’t a favourite thing for girls either, but a bowl of pasta or even cereal will really help. Do ensure they eat before they go out, pace themselves with soft drinks, look after each other and keep their mobiles fully charged. Have a look at the interactive body - it might make them think twice.

·        Girls tend to prefer spirits – which of course are at 40% proof or higher, whereas boys prefer beer and cider. Please talk about the number of units in a bottle of vodka – an average of 37 and that each shot is a unit – the same as a ½ pint of beer, for example. Take a look at with them – there’s a great section on units as well as advice on the law, a quiz and lots of other interactive things they can look at with you or by themselves. 

Young women with depression rises by half

Experts say more than a quarter of young women, aged 16 to 24, are suffering worrying symptoms of depression too. This is more than three times the rate for men the same age. Between a fifth and a quarter of young women have also self-harmed - most commonly cutting themselves - compared to just 10 per cent of men the same age. The figures, contained in a report published by NHS Digital, found the rate at which young women are experiencing common mental health disorder symptoms (CMD) is increasing rapidly compared to young men.

Symptoms include irritability, worrying, depression, anxiety, feelings of panic, compulsion and trouble sleeping. The study found that while rates of severe CMD symptoms are falling among young men, they are rising among young women (from almost 10 per cent in 1993 - to 15 per cent in 2014).

The same age group are also the most likely to drink at hazardous levels compared to women in other age groups, with 26 per cent having done so. According to the report, more educated girls drink more too.  

Extracts from the findings state: 'Our research shows a strong link between feeling isolated, unable to cope with problems or being pessimistic and under-age drinking, which can lead to low mental wellbeing.' 

'Adolescents establish addictions more quickly than adults and regular drinking is associated with poorer psychological, social and physical health outcomes, as well as poorer educational outcomes, violence, injuries, smoking, drug use and risky sexual behaviour,' it said.

4 character traits that increase the likelihood of addiction

Some very interesting research from a programme called Preventure in Canada may help us understand why some children are more prone to risk taking and experimentation that can lead to addiction, than others. Knowing if we have a child who is at increased risk, can help us seek help and counseling early from school or from support services and specialist charities.

The researchers identified four personality traits that increase the risk of addiction among young people - sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness. According to the research, most at-risk children can be spotted early. For example, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increases illegal drug addiction risk by a factor of three. Children with autism spectrum disorders also have difficulty regulating emotions and may be over sensitive and so are more prone to isolation and feelings of hopelessness.

A child who begins using drugs out of a sense of hopelessness has a quite different goal than one who seeks thrills. Three of the four personality traits identified by Preventure are linked to mental health issues, a critical risk factor for addiction. Impulsiveness, for instance, is common among people with ADHD, while hopelessness is often a precursor to depression. Anxiety sensitivity, which means being overly aware and frightened of physical signs of anxiety, is linked to panic disorder. While sensation-seeking is not connected to other diagnoses, it raises addiction risk for the obvious reason that people drawn to intense experience will probably like drugs. We are very pleased that both the Prime Minister and schools are putting a much higher emphasis on emotional wellbeing and mental health. Our children face huge pressures from society, school and their social lives and this increase in recognition, we hope, will help.

Spending time with our teenagers such as meals together, encouraging volunteering, part time work in the holidays, sport and activities can help protect against risk taking as well as improve mental wellbeing. Visit for tips and suggestions.

AET resources comprise of and a Teacher Workbook, booklets ‘Alcohol and You’ for 15yrs+ and ‘Talking to Your Kids About Alcohol’ parent and carer guide.
We also offer teacher CPD workshops and parent information talks.

For further information on any of the above please contact
Helena Conibear, Founder, Director
Kathryn Arnott-Gent, Parent and Schools Coordinator - N Region
Helen Dougan, SE Region & SEND Coordinator
Kate Hooper, Schools Coordinator

Facebook Twitter


Gordon Redley BEd (Cantab) LPSH, Chair of Trustees
Christina Benjamin BSc (Hons) PGCE
Patricia Garven Cert Ed.
Kate Larard MSc, HV, RM, SRN
Victoria Mc Donaugh MA (Hons) PGCE
Keith Newton ACA
Alison Winsborough BMus, PGCE

The Alcohol Education Trust, Frampton House, Frampton, Dorset, DT2 9NH
01300 320869
Registered Charity Number 1138775